Council leader David Parker says he will “co-operate fully” with the Standards Commission if the ethical watchdog pursues a complaint against him.
The complaint, lodged by Innerleithen community councillor Brian McCrow, alleges Mr Parker breached the councillors’ code of conduct during a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s petitions and delegations committee on October 1.
It was submitted on Monday to the independent Commissioner for Ethical Standards (CES) in Scotland, who will decide if an investigation is warranted. It will then be up to the Standards Commission to authorise further investigations, hold a hearing or take no action.
Mr McCrow’s case centres on the treatment he allegedly received when he talked to his 4,400-signature petition calling on SBC to overturn its decision to invest £3.5 million on a new visitor centre for the Great Tapestry of Scotland on a site near the Tweedbank rail terminal. The committee agreed to take no action.
In his submission to the CES, Mr McCrow describes committee member Mr Parker, whose Melrose and Leaderdale ward includes Tweedbank, as “the main driver” of the tapestry decision. “Mr Parker was clearly trying to discredit me as a petitioner through aggressive and out of context questioning,” claims Mr McCrow.
He cites Mr Parker raising the issue of Mr McCrow’s support for the AimUp mountain bike uplift project in Innerleithen for which, Mr Parker claimed, the business case had not been established.
“Mr Parker attacked my personal credibility by suggesting my support for AimUp was evidence of my incompetence… it was both rude and aggressive and irrelevant to the hearing of the petition and was designed to influence the members’ perception of me and place doubts in their mind on my motives and competence,” states Mr McCrow. “It was clear throughout that he [Mr Parker] came with a closed mind and an objective to ensure that no credence was given to our petition.
“He failed to act appropriately as a member of the petitions committee. His very presence on the committee is inappropriate as he is acting as judge and jury on his own decisions.”
Mr Parker told the Southern: “My understanding is that the Standards Commission requires confidentiality surrounding the handling of any complaints. Therefore, I am not able to make any comment on this matter. Suffice to say, I will co-operate fully should the Standards Commission take this matter further.”